Articles | Volume 16, issue 6
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1685–1696, 2012

Special issue: Hydrology education in a changing world

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 1685–1696, 2012

Opinion article 22 Jun 2012

Opinion article | 22 Jun 2012

Training hydrologists to be ecohydrologists and play a leading role in environmental problem solving

M. E. McClain1,2, L. Chícharo3, N. Fohrer4, M. Gaviño Novillo5, W. Windhorst6, and M. Zalewski7,8 M. E. McClain et al.
  • 1Department of Water Science and Engineering, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, P.O. Box 3015, 2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami Florida 33199, USA
  • 3Universidade de Algarve, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
  • 4Department of Hydrology and Water Resource Management, Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Kiel University, Kiel 24118, Germany
  • 5Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, La Plata – Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 6Department of Ecosystem Management, Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • 7International Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences, European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology under the Auspices of UNESCO, 3 Tylna Str., 90-364 Łódź, Poland
  • 8Department of Applied Ecology University of Lodz, 12/16 Banacha Str., 90-237 Łódź, Poland

Abstract. Ecohydrology is a relatively new and rapidly growing subject area in the hydrology curriculum. It is a trans-disciplinary science derived from the larger earth systems science movement and examining mutual interactions of the hydrological cycle and ecosystems. It is also an applied science focused on problem solving and providing sound guidance to catchment-scale integrated land and water resources management. The principle spheres of ecohydrology include (i) climate-soil-vegetation-groundwater interactions at the land surface with special implications for land use, food production and climate change; (ii) riparian runoff, flooding, and flow regime dynamics in river corridors with special implications for water supply, water quality, and inland fisheries; and (iii) fluvial and groundwater inputs to lakes/reservoirs, estuaries, and coastal zones with special implications for water quality and fisheries. We propose an educational vision focused on the development of professional and personal competencies to impart a depth of scientific knowledge in the theory and practice of ecohydrology and a breadth of cross-cutting knowledge and skills to enable ecohydrologists to effectively collaborate with associated scientists and communicate results to resource managers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders. In-depth knowledge in hydrology, ecology, and biogeochemistry is emphasized, as well as technical skills in data collection, modeling, and statistical analysis. Cross-cutting knowledge is framed in the context of integrated water resources management. Personal competencies to be fostered in educational programs include creative thinking, cooperation, communication, and leadership. We consider a life-long learning context but highlight the importance of master's level training in the professional formation of ecohydrologists.